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2023-’24 Iowa Hawkeyes Basketball Season Preview

BTPowerhouse previews the upcoming season for the Iowa Hawkeyes and what fans should expect from the program heading into the 2023-24 season.

NCAA Basketball: Nebraska at Iowa Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

The 2023-24 ‘BTPowerhouse Season Preview’ series will take an in-depth look at all 14 teams in the Big Ten heading into the 2023-24 season with analysis on each program’s previous season, offseason departures, new additions, strengths, weakness, top player, and top storylines. Each post will also include predictions on each team’s starting lineup, season performance and commentary from a local “insider” who covers said team.

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Iowa is going to be an interesting team to watch this year.

For the first time in a while, the team doesn’t have a returning star to build its offense around. Gone are Luka Garza and the Murray brothers. Who can step up into that go-to guy role?

1. 2022-23 Season Performance

  • Record: 19-14 (11-9, 7th in Big Ten)
  • KenPom ranking: No. 41
  • NET ranking: No. 38
  • Postseason: NCAA Tournament First Round

Iowa stumbled a bit out of the gate before ultimately turning in a respectable regular season highlighted by a sweep of the second-place Indiana Hoosiers and a high-scoring sudden comeback victory over Michigan State.

Head coach Fran McCaffery’s group ran right into a strong Auburn program in the first round following a winning record in league play. Unfortunately for the Hawkeyes, they lost a good amount of the talent that got them there.

2. Offseason exits

  • G Ahron Ulis
  • F Josh Ogundele
  • G/F Connor McCaffery
  • F Filip Rebraca
  • F Kris Murray

Iowa lost a good amount of last season’s offensive firepower. Leading scorers Kris Murray (20.2 per game) and Filip Rebraca (14.4 per game) are gone. Iowa doesn’t have a Luka Garza or the Murray brothers to shoulder the load on offense anymore.

Ahron Ulis and Josh Ogundele departed the program in the portal after coming off the bench last season with Ulis having eligibility issues at Nebraska.

3. New Additions


  • F Even Brauns
  • F Ben Krikke


  • G Pryce Sandfort
  • G Brock Harding
  • F Owen Freeman
  • F Ladji Dembele

Iowa’s portal additions don’t jump off a screen. Even Brauns played at Belmont and Ben Krikke starred at Valparaiso.

Brauns is entering year four of his college career having averaged 7 points, 5.3 boards and 1.2 assists per game for the Bruins in the Missouri Valley Conference last year. Krikke, on the other hand, was a standout on a not-very-good Valpo team averaging 19.4 points, 5.9 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game.

Krikke will absolutely have a larger role than Brauns and could end up as one of the top three overall players for the Hawkeyes with the latter expected to contend with the league’s post physicality.

4. Points of Optimism

Iowa’s offense has usually managed to be among the best in the league under Fran McCaffery and, under the right circumstances, among the best in the country. The Hawkeyes ranked fourth overall nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency to finish the 2022-23 season.

Iowa probably has the pieces to put together another Fran offense in league play and Tony Perkins could end up as one of the better guards in the conference when all is said and done.

Payton Sandfort should take another step as a junior and Krikke was an underrated get in the transfer portal that’ll serve the Hawkeyes well given his talent, scoring ability and experience.

5. Points of Concern

So, the offense? The staff is probably going to be able to put something together but they’re going to have to do it without a National Player of the Year candidate or a future NBA talent for the first time in years.

The last time this was true, the Hawkeyes finished .500 in conference play. Iowa went through an extremely shaky few games early last season before finding its footing and the same thing could happen this year.

I’d worry without a go-to top contributor on offense and no high-level go-to guy to replace him. Iowa will need some really good games from Perkins, the elder Sandfort and Krikke to have a good run in conference play.

Which, speaking of:

6. Top Player

One of Perkins, Sandfort or Krikke will likely emerge as the team’s best player this season. Given his experience as the third option on last year’s squad and seniority, I’m going with Perkins here.

If he can improve his 3-point shooting in the absence of Kris Murray and alongside Sandfort, he’ll easily slide into that starring role in Iowa’s offense.

7. 2022-23 Schedule Breakdown

Non-Conference Schedule

  • 11/7 - North Dakota
  • 11/10 - Alabama State
  • 11/14 - at Creighton
  • 11/17 - Arkansas State
  • 11/23 - Oklahoma (neutral, San Diego)
  • 11/24 - Seton Hall/USC (neutral)
  • 11/29 - North Florida
  • 12/7 - at Iowa State
  • 12/16 - Florida A&M
  • 12/20 - UMBC
  • 12/29 - Northern Illinois

There aren’t too many heavyweights to this non conference slate. Creighton in Ohama is a likely loss with the Bluejays expected to contend in the Big East and nobody to match up with Ryan Kalkbrenner. Oklahoma and Iowa State will provide some preview of what the team could look like against high major competition with the latter being an in-state rivalry.

As previously alluded to, the Hawkeyes suffered a bit of a stunning loss to Eastern Illinois (finished 347th in KenPom) before righting the ship against Indiana in early conference play, so not every game is a gimme win.

Conference Schedule

  • 12/4 - at Purdue
  • 12/10 - Michigan
  • 1/2 - at Wisconsin
  • 1/6 - Rutgers
  • 1/12 - Nebraska
  • 1/16 - at Minnesota
  • 1/20 - Purdue
  • 1/24 - Maryland
  • 1/27 - at Michigan
  • 1/30 - at Indiana
  • 2/2 - Ohio State
  • 2/8 - at Penn State
  • 2/11 - Minnesota
  • 2/14 - at Maryland
  • 2/17 - Wisconsin
  • 2/20 - at Michigan State
  • 2/24 - at Illinois
  • 2/27 - Penn State
  • 3/2 - at Northwestern
  • 3/10 - Illinois
  • 3/13-17 - Big Ten Tournament

Gonna go out on a limb here and say that opening up Big Ten play against Purdue in Mackey Arena isn’t exactly ideal. Iowa doesn’t match up well there and it could get ugly rather quickly. Welcoming new look Michigan and immediately going on the road at Wisconsin right after isn’t exactly a great follow-up either.

Here’s a few other stretches that stick out:

  • 1/24 - Maryland
  • 1/27 - at Michigan
  • 1/30 - at Indiana

  • 2/14 - at Maryland
  • 2/17 - Wisconsin
  • 2/20 - at Michigan State
  • 2/24 - at Illinois

Maryland is likely a top half team in the league, especially if they figure out how to play away from the DMV, and road trips to Michigan and Indiana won’t be easy, though Iowa has matched up well against the latter for the past two seasons.

The second stretch is rather daunting. Road games against Maryland, Michigan State and Illinois all in a 10 day stretch is less than ideal for the Hawkeyes. All of those teams project in the top half of the league so even one win would mean something.

8. Projected Starting Lineup

  • PG: Tony Perkins 100%
  • SG: Payton Sandfort 100%
  • SF: Patrick McCaffery 100%
  • PF: Ben Krikke 50%
  • C: Even Brauns 50%

(Percentage likelihood of starting at season tip-off.)

Iowa did not have a very deep frontcourt last year, it was either Kris Murray or Filip Rebraca at the four and five with some mix of Patrick McCaffery at power forward. Not sure if Brauns was brought in to start but in theory that’s how it could work out.

… which could be interesting given that Krikke played the five at Valpo. Fran is going to need to get creative with that frontcourt situation and I’m curious to see how it all plays out in Iowa City.

9. Team Perspective from Tyler Tachman of the Des Moines Register

Iowa is dealing with a considerable amount of roster turnover heading into this season. The Hawkeyes lost Kris Murray, Filip Rebraca, Connor McCaffery and Ahron Ulis. Murray and Rebraca, specifically, are big losses given their scoring and rebounding production. Iowa has brought in six new scholarship players — four freshmen and two transfer. Valparaiso transfer Ben Krikke was a notable addition from the transfer portal. Fran McCaffery has also spoken highly about the freshman class. Iowa is returning a core trio from last season — Patrick McCaffery, Payton Sandfort and Tony Perkins. Each should have a chance to breakout this season. Two wild card returnees are Josh Dix and Dasonte Bowen, who flashed potential as freshmen last season and will look to build upon it as sophomores.

10. Overall Season Outlook

Like Tyler said, Iowa lost a lot of offensive firepower and will need a go-to guy to emerge from the solid trio of Perkins, Sandfort and Krikke. The depth at point guard got thinner with Ahron Ulis going portaling, so the Hawkeyes may ask for a bit more from freshman Brock Harding.

Pryce Sandfort could be an immediate contributor in the backcourt, and the team’s guards could end up being its strength. They may be able to get through the Big Ten and out with a low-seed tourney bid if the new pieces are able to jell with that backcourt.

Big Ten Prediction: 10th place